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How-to Articles >> How Not to Write a Press Release
The following satirical article originally appeared on MindsetNetwire.com in early 1999. It is Copr. © 1999 Richard Romano, all rights reerved, and is used with permission of the author.
How Not to Be Seen
Practical tips to ensure that your press
release is ignored and/or reviled by everyone who receives it
by Richard Romano
Let's face it: everyone loves press releases. Some people just can't get enough of 'em. But the attendant publicity that a well-written press release can generate? That's a different story. There's an
old saying that goes something like "If you stick your neck out far enough, you'll get shot at."
Therefore, there is some virtue to remaining on what radio comedian Fred Allen once called the
"treadmill to oblivion." (Some of us run on it everyday.) People need to know the answer to the
question, "How can I produce many press releases but not get any publicity from them?"
I am a magazine editor. I receive tons of press releases everydayby proper mail
(I'd call it "snail mail" but I reserve that term for our less-than-spectacular E-mail service provider), E-mail, fax, messenger, overnight courier, carrier pigeon, Vulcan mind meld, etc. I know what I, as an editor, look for in a press release that will make me gush forth with effusive praise for a product, and what will make use the release to wrap fish in to send to intended mob victims.
So, as a public service to public relations pros (and prose), I have drawn up a list of some tips you can use to ensure that no one will ever know about your product or service.
- Don't mention the actual product anywhere on the first page of the press release. This is important. Be sure to bury not only the name of the product but also any specfic description of it in the middle of inscrutably dense text. Instead of specific terms, use vague, meaningless generalities such as "workflow system," "enabling technology," or "solution."
- If you can't come up with vague generalities, be sure to inundate the reader with as many technical terms per linear inch as possible.
- Never use bulleted lists or charts. Editors are in love with the English language. They like words, sentences, and paragraphs. So use as many of them as possible.
- When using subheads, be sure to never actually cover the subject mentioned in the subhead. For example, when using "Pricing & Availability" as a subhead, a line such as "The [product in question] will be available soon and will be priced competitively" is perfectly sufficient.
- Don't talk about anything of relevance to the market to which a particular product or service is targeted. If you are pitching a printer, never actually mention its resolution, consumables cost, or connectivity options. Only talk about how big and what color it is. But be sure to mention that it is available in all iMac flavors if that is indeed the case, especially when pitching to professional publishing and design publications.
- When stipulating embargo dates, make sure the release is given to an editor at least two months before the date s/he can actually write about the product in question. This ensures that the editor will have completely forgotten about it by the time it can be mentioned.
- Never include pricing information. The cost of a product or service is always the least important piece of information, so you can certainly omit it. Editors and their readers are always far more eager to see what the assistant director of marketing has to say.
- When sending E-mail press releases, never suppress the recipient list. Editors love to waste paper by printing a press release and getting two pages worth of E-mail addresses of competing publications.
- Always attach an E-mail press release as a Microsoft Word 98 or PDF file. Editors love to launch as many programs as possible to read a press release.
- Always, and I mean always, attach high-resolution TIFF images. This ensures that when editors check their E-mail while on the road from a slow laptop and a 28.8 modem, they can be as late as possible for meetings.
# # #
Note from the Website editor: Obviously Mr. Romano's comments are to be taken in jest and are more than a little satirical. You should actually consider
doing exactly the opposite of what he suggests in order for
your promotional efforts to succeed!
Richard Romano is the managing editor for Micro Publishing News, a national publication covering design, print on demand, and content creation. He is the author of numerous books in the field of graphic arts, design software, and digital cameras.
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